SC shall hear J&K relief petition on 31st October 5-member committee submits report sans J&K member

5-member committee constituted by the orders of Supreme Court of India submitted its interim report before the Supreme Court today on the status report about distribution of relief material and functioning of the government machinery. The report was signed by 4 members only as the Relief Commissioner of J&K government did not sign the report. The court ordered that the contents of the report should be handed over to the petitioners (J&K National Panthers Party as well) and to the counsels of the Union of India and the State government.

The Division Bench of the Supreme Court presided by the Chief Justice, Mr. H.L Dattu  & JJ Mr. S.A. Bobde and Mr. Abhay Manohar Sapre directed the J&K Advocate-General, Mr. Qadri and Attorney General for India, Mr. Mukul Rohtagi to ensure that the High Court starts functioning from Monday in Srinagar so that the people shall not suffer anymore. The Supreme Court also that the State government to file reply to the additional affidavit filed by J&K National Panthers Party in which the party has deposed that there was no such thing as administration in the entire state of J&K. In Srinagar City thousands of people were camping in broken tents mostly provided by NGOs from outside the state.

Prof.Bhim Singh, Sr. Advocate appearing for the JKNPP submitted before the court that;

That when he visited the flood affected areas, the streets and lanes of Srinagar City he found that they were stinking because of the bad smell, may be due to the fact that dead animals have not been removed till date and many persons are untraceable. That there is stagnation of water in the pockets of Srinagar City and the local colonies are not fit to be used for living purpose. The relief material is not delivered to the needy and many people complained that they were not being provided food material regularly. They further admitted that there is no cooking facility as there is no enough space for their accommodation, cooking besides. Several bridges destroyed by floods have been restored by the army yet there is no medical care, at all, for the people living in the camps. Not a single soul from the administration was seen inaction through out Srinagar.

As far Jammu Pradesh is concerned, hundreds of flood victims presented their applications who had lost their houses, crop, land and cattle. The state government has issued some unsigned notifications offering Rs.10000/-, 12000/-, 17000/- etc. for the reconstruction of the houses. The state government has taken the plea that houses lost in rain cannot be compensated at all. This Hon’ble Court has observed that this was a natural calamity/ national disaster and therefore all the farmers and others who suffered because of floods are entitled to full compensation for the loss of their property, land, houses, crop or orchids and further they are entitled to free schooling, free medicines, free seeds etc.

Some far-flung areas in Ramban district like Gool, Bhogal have not been visited by the administration till date. About damages in the district of Udhampur losses to lives and property were alarming. One village Sadal in tehsil Udhampur was completely washed away which is only 30/40 kms. from Udhampur district headquarters. The village was split into three. About 70 families of the eastern part are camping in broken tents in village Kasuri. No drinking water, no medical care, ration and food material they were using was provided by some NGOs from Punjab. The western part of the village was also affected heavily. About 140 families (540 souls) are camping in village Panjar far away from the rest of the people. The middle portion of this village was completely flooded away or slided away. The people of this piece of land were crying for help for three days as the village broke into three parts. The district authority failed to approach the army or any authority to provide them helicopter lift or otherwise. The district administration did not respond at all to the cries of these people. With the result 27 people were buried under the debris of the sliding land.

The tragedy is that only 7 dead bodies were recovered from the debris on 3rd October, 2014 when the team of JKNPP visited these people in the tents. The district administration has not cared at all for the plight of the people. That there is a need provide permanent shelter, agricultural land and relief for one year to all such flood affected people. That it is in the interest of justice and rule of law that a judicial enquiry is made into failure of the administration that resulted into death of 27 people in village Sadal. That all the educated boys and girls in the flood affected families should be provided with jobs at the earliest so that they can serve their families and feed for their survival.

This team visited several areas of district of Reasi. The Jammu migrants camping in Talwara for several years have not been made any relief since 2004 in spite of the orders of the Supreme Court. Their residence areas belonging to Salal Hydel project have been damaged badly and it needs immediate repair. The entire District of Reasi has lost crop and several houses.

About death of 66 persons in a bus in Nowshera sector (along LoC) in the district of Rajouri, a horrifying tragedy took place on 4th September when a bus carrying 66 passengers was swapped away by the floods at village Laam. He sought direction from the Supreme Court to provide JCB machine to dig out 14 bodies from the debris.

The Advocate General assured the court that JCB machine shall be sent to the spot within 24 hours and similarly appropriate action will be taken to recover dead bodies in village Sadal of Panchari.

Prof.Bhim Singh submitted before the court that Udhampur MLA from J&K National Panthers Party who is also the State President has been sitting fast unto death for the past 9 days seeking intervention of this Hon’ble Court and the Governor of J&K to provide relief and rehabilitation to the flood victims in Udhampur and elsewhere. He said that it was pathetic that the Dy. Commissioner, Udhampur did not care to rescue 27 people in Sadal village who remained shouting for help for three days.

Prof.Bhim Singh accused the State of J&K for neglecting the farmers who have suffered a lot, lost their crops, orchids, cattle as well as residential houses throughout the state. He accused that the government is making joke with the farmers by offering them Rs.10000/12000 for the loss of their houses. He demanded full payment for the loss of houses as well as release of all political prisoners including the minors and the so-called stone pelters so that they may be able to help their families/parents for their rehabilitation at the earliest before the fall of winter and advent of snow fall.

The Attorney General for India and Advocate General of J&K insisted to transfer the JKNPP petition to J&K High Court for further hearing which was vehemently opposed by Prof.Bhim Singh who maintained that this was fundamental right of every resident of J&K guaranteed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The court agreed to hear the matter on 31st October, 2014, giving 10 days to the 5-member committee to submit its final report on the relief and rehabilitation.

Prof.Bhim Singh was assisted by Mr. B.S. Billowria, Mr. D.K. Garg, Mr. S.K. Bandopadhyay, advocates and others.